Medical school personal statement

Medical schools want to enroll bright, empathetic, communicative people. This means admissions committees care about more than just your MCAT score. They want to know who you are and why you're passionate about becoming a doctor. Your personal statement is the first opportunity you have to tell a medical school about yourself in your own words.

Choosing Personal Statement Topics

Your medical school personal statement is a component of your application submitted to AMCAS or AACOMAS (NB: If you are applying to medical school in Canada, confirm the application process with your school, as not all application components may be submitted through AMCAS). They don't provide a prompt, but they do offer topics to consider. Many approaches are acceptable. You could write about:

  • an experience that challenged or changed your perspective about medicine
  • a relationship with a mentor or another inspiring individual
  • a challenging personal experience
  • an overview of your academic or life story
  • an insight into the nature of medical practice

You'll write an additional essay (or two) when you submit secondary applications to individual schools. These essays require you to respond to a specific question. Admissions committees will review your entire application, so choose subject matter that complements your original essay.

Good Rules of Thumb 

If you believe that you are more than your grades and test scores, don't pass up this opportunity to share some genuine insight into who you are.

  1. 1. Stay focused.

    Choose a theme. Stick to it, and support it with specific examples.

  2. 2. Good writing is simple writing.

    Good medical students—and good doctors—use clear, direct language. Make clear points and remove extraneous words. Your essays should not be a struggle to comprehend.

  3. 3. Stay on topic.

    Keep your personal statement relevant to why you're choosing a life in medicine. If you choose to write about an experience that is not directly related, explain how it contributed to your desire to go to medical school or how it will inform your experience as a medical student.

  4. 4. Stick to the rules.

    Give what is asked of you—your essays aren't the place to work out your authority issues. No small fonts, funny margins, or doodles.

  5. 5. Find your unique angle.

    What can you say about yourself that no one else can? Remember, everyone has trials, successes and failures. What's important and unique is how you reacted to those incidents. Be personal and be specific

  6. 6. Don't overdo it.

    Beware of being too self–congratulatory or too self–deprecating.

  7. 7. Get feedback.

    The more time you have spent writing your statement, the less likely you are to spot any errors. A professor or friend whose judgment and writing skills you trust is invaluable. Give yourself (and your proofreaders) the time this task truly requires.

Check out more tips on how to make your med school application stand out